Here's to another great semester
Dean James Curran

This issue of The Dean's Letter highlights the momentum of our school by looking back at our successful fall semester.

Our faculty, students, and staff help propel RSPH to greater heights. Through world-class teaching, interdisciplinary research, and ongoing community engagement, you help cement our position as THE destination for public health.

It's a privilege to be part of a school that is truly making the world a better—and healthier—place. I look forward to 2012!

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Rollins marks Peace Corps' 50th anniversary

Dean Surbey and Kristin Unzicker with Aaron Williams (right), Peace Corps director
On September 8, RSPH hosted a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps with the event, "Honoring Our Public Health Legacy, Inspiring Future Generations.” The event included a discussion with current Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and a panel session with key public health professionals who have served during each decade of Peace Corps history. In a special feature of the 50th anniversary celebrations, the Peace Corps and RSPH signed a partnership agreement for the school to join the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, a graduate school initiative— including financial aid and career-building internships— reserved especially for returned Peace Corps volunteers. As part of the new program, Fellows lead initiatives involving students in the Master's International Program that mimic the Peace Corps experience by serving international refugee populations in the Atlanta community.

Watch the recap video of the celebration.

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Public Health Sciences Grand Rounds debuts

The Rollins Research Advisory Committee launched a new seminar series this past semester. The Public Health Sciences Grand Rounds series fosters collaborations across the school and promotes the exciting work of Rollins faculty.

Kenneth Thorpe, Robert W. Woodruff Professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, spoke on "The Role of Prevention in Health Reform" during the first lecture in October 7. Gene Brody, research professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, discussed "Incorporating Genetics into Epidemiological and Prevention Research" on November 4. Christine Moe, Gangarosa Professor of Safe Water and Sanitation and director of the Center for Global Safe Water, was the final lecturer of the semester on December 9. Moe spoke on "Evolution and Revolution in Water and Sanitation: Atlanta to Accra." Watch the video from each lecture to learn more.

The seminar series will resume during spring semester, beginning with a presentation by Lance Waller, Rollins Professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, in February.

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Cunningham featured in Diabetes Care

Solveig Cunningham

Solveig Cunningham, assistant professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health, was the lead researcher on a study published online in Diabetes Care showing that although Americans are living longer, obese Americans are living fewer of those years without diabetes.

According to the study published in October, life expectancy at age 18 for American men and women increased between the 1980s and the 2000s, but the number of years an average 18-year-old would expect to live without diabetes fell by 1.7 years for men and 1.5 years for women. However, obese 18-year-old men and women could expect to live 5.6 and 2.5 fewer years, respectively, without diabetes than they would have 20 years ago.

Read more.

Study: The burden of financing health care

A study released in the September issue of Health Affairs finds that the burden of financing health care hits lower-income families the hardest. Using national data on health care spending, co-principal investigator Kathleen Adams, associate professor of health policy and management, along with principal investigator Patricia Ketsche of the Institute of Health Administration at Georgia State University and Georgia Health Policy Center, estimated that spending on health care consumes more than 20% of family income for those in the lowest income group, but no more than 16% of income for those in other income groups.

Read more.

Study: Depression and heart disease mortality

The negative effects of depression in young people on the health of their hearts may be stronger than previously recognized. Depression or a history of suicide attempts in people younger than 40, especially young women, markedly increase their risk for dying from heart disease, results from a nationwide study have revealed. The results were published in the November 2011 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

“This is the first study looking at depression as a risk factor for heart disease specifically in young people,” says senior author Viola Vaccarino, Rollins Professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology. “We’re finding that depression is a remarkable risk factor for heart disease in young people. Among women, depression appears to be more important than traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes, which are not common in young women.”

Read more.

Additional studies and grants

  • Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
    Michelle Kegler – Best Interventions to Create Smoke-Free Home Policies in Low-Income Households (NIH)

  • Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
    Michael Kutner – Melatonin Supplementation and the Metabolic Syndrome (NIH)

  • Environmental Health
    Ying Zhou – Uncertainties in Modeling Spatially Resolved Climate Change Health Impact (NIH)

  • Epidemiology
    Kevin Ward – Patient and Provider Influences on Disparities in Colorectal Cancer Care (University of Michigan)

  • Global Health
    James Curran – William H. Foege Global Health Fellows Workshop (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

    Sandra Thurman – Faith-Based Community Partnerships: Reaching Vulnerable Populations (CDC Foundation)
  • Health Policy and Management
    Benjamin Druss Mental Health Concentration Lecture Series (Ortho-McNeil Janssen Scientific Affairs)

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William Foege


Foege to be honored for social courage
William Foege will be the 2012 recipient of the Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage. The award extends the legacy of the late Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. by recognizing people, who like him, have shown extraordinary courage at considerable risk to their careers, and even their lives, on behalf of a social organization or issue. As mayor, Allen helped maintain peace during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Foege will receive the Allen Prize on March 14, 2012, during the "Global Health and the Challenge of Hope" symposium sponsored by Georgia Tech.

Foege is widely recognized as instrumental in the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. After serving as a medical missionary in Nigeria, Foege became chief of CDC's Smallpox Eradication Program and was named CDC director in 1977. In 1984, Foege and several colleagues formed the Task Force for Child Survival (now the Task Force for Global Health), which promotes childhood immunizations and prevents polio, measles, river blindness, and other diseases. Foege served as executive director of the Carter Center from 1986 to 1992 and joined the Emory faculty as Presidential Distinguished Professor of International Health at RSPH in 1997. Two years later, he became senior medical adviser for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He retired from Emory and the Gates Foundation in 2001.

Public Health Historymakers celebrate at Emory's 175th anniversary
Earlier this month, Emory celebrated 175 years of places, people, ideas, discoveries, gifts, resources, and unexpected events that make Emory such a fascinating place. Emory selected 175 Historymakers—notable men and women who have contributed to Emory's evolution and growth in a myriad of ways, whether alumni or administrative leaders, faculty or staff, donors, visionaries, or friends. A few of those historymakers with ties to Rollins include:

Thomas Fort Sellers 32M 60H (Former Director, Georgia Department of Public of Health)

Virginia Bales Harris 71C 77MPH
(Public Health Advocate)

William H. Foege 86H
(Former Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Eugene J. Gangarosa (Global Health faculty member)

Patricia A. Lottier 84MPH (CEO, The Atlanta Tribune)

O. Wayne 86H & Grace Crum 95H Rollins (Philanthropists)

Ajay Pillarisetti 03B 07MPH (Campus Moviefest Co-founder)

Isam Vaid 93Ox 95C 99MPH (Founder, Muslim Student Association)

See the entire list of Emory Historymakers

Narayan is mentor of the year
K.M. Venkat Narayan, the O.C. Hubert Professor in Global Health at RSPH and a professor in the School of Medicine, has been selected as mentor of the year by Emory’s Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

Narayan is a physician-scientist trained in internal medicine, geriatric medicine, and preventive medicine. He also specializes in the epidemiology and prevention of diabetes, obesity, and vascular diseases. Until August 2006, he led the Diabetes Epidemiology and Statistics Branch at CDC. Currently, he co-directs Emory's Global Diabetes Research Center and the Ovations/NHLBI Center of Excellence for Cardiometabolic Diseases with partners in India and Pakistan.

RSPH alumni engagement rate grows
Congratulations to Michelle James, director of alumni and constituent relations, for increasing the RSPH alumni engagement rate to 30.6%. The university-wide annual alumni engagement rate for FY 2011 is 20.4%. This growing rate reflects robust alumni programming that keeps our nearly 6,000 alumni connected to RSPH.

Curran appointed to UNITAID Steering Committee

Dean James Curran was selected to serve on the 2011-2012 Independent Steering Committee for Five-Year Evaluation of UNITAID. Established in 2006, UNITAID helps scale up access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, primarily for people in low-income countries, by leveraging price reductions for quality diagnostics and medicines and accelerating the pace at which they are made available.

Cam Escoffery

NCI names Escoffery as research mentor
The National Cancer Institute tapped Cam Escoffery, assistant professor of behavioral sciences, as a mentor for its Research to Reality Mentorship Program, which helps young professionals understand more fully how evidence-based decision-making occurs. Escoffery is paired with Venice Hayes, a public health practitioner at Morehouse College. Together, they are developing an implementation and evaluation plan for the Witness Project, a breast and cervical cancer educational intervention in churches.

Task Force for Global Health ranked in fund raising
The Task Force for Global Health is the fourth most successful fund-raiser from private sources in the United States, according to an October ranking by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Task Force was founded in 1984 by William Foege, former director of CDC and Presidential Distinguished Professor Emeritus at RSPH, to coordinate efforts of the many entities addressing childhood immunization.

Deb Houry
Deborah Houry

Houry named to “40 Under 40” list
Deborah Houry is a 2011 recipient of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “40 Under 40” award. Houry was honored for her efforts to prevent violence-related injury, while working to get women out of violent relationships. Her research not only focuses on women who are victims of abuse and end up in emergency rooms, but also provides a path for women to avoid becoming victims of intimate partner violence. Houry is an associate professor in the departments of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education and Environmental Health at RSPH. She is also vice chair for research and associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine in the School of Medicine.

Alumni and student accolades

Lisa Carlson
Lisa Carlson

Lisa Carlson
93MPH (BSHE) was elected to the Executive Board of the American Public Health Association at this year’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Since earning her degree, Carlson has remained an active and vital member of the Emory community and RSPH.  She is director of academic programs and administration for Emory Surgery and the Emory Transplant Center. In between and after hours, she teaches courses, mentors students, speaks at events, and serves on various panels, committees, boards, and focus groups.

Rollins students shine in GHI photo contest
Three of the five student winners in the 2011 Global Health Student Photography Contest are from RSPH. Danika Barry, Niharika Bhattarai, and Colleen Laurence each received $500 for photos taken during their practicum experiences last summer, sponsored by the Emory Global Health Institute (GHI). Other winners included Aubrey Graham from Laney Graduate School and Ju-Han Yao from Emory College.

Eighty-seven students submitted 229 photographs—the highest number of entries since the contest began in 2008. The winning entries from Rollins were “Trinity,” taken by Barry in Ethiopia; “The Corner Pump,” taken by Bhattarai in India; and “Work Place Hazards,” taken by Laurence in Malawi. View all of the winning photos.

Students and alumni accepted into EIS
Laura Edison (CMPH Applied Epidemiology track), Jason Wilken (CMPH Applied Epidemiology track), Kim Brinker (CMPH Applied Epidemiology track), Carrie McNeil (Global Environmental Health MPH student), and Candice Johnson (Epidemiology PhD student) have been accepted into the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) at CDC. Three Rollins alumni also will join the next EIS class: Hajime Kamiya 08MPH (Epidemiology), Angela Thompson-Paul 05MSPH (Nutrition-Global Health), and Ryan Wallace 05MPH (Epidemiology).

EIS is a two-year post-graduate training program of service and on-the-job learning for health professionals interested in the practice of applied epidemiology. Since 1951, more than 3,000 EIS officers have responded to requests for epidemiologic assistance. They are on the public health frontlines, conducting epidemiologic investigations, research, and public health surveillance nationally and internationally.

Congratulations to all!

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Welcome Aboard

Kathleen Presswala has joined the Office of Development and Alumni Relations as the director of annual giving. Presswala previously served for three years as the annual giving officer for the Atlanta Ballet. A graduate of the Paideia School, she received an undergraduate degree in history from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and a law degree from the University of Georgia.

Please join me in welcoming her and all new faculty and staff and congratulating those who have been promoted to new positions:

New Appointments

Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
Sarah Piper, Senior Program Associate
Amy Lovvorn, Senior Research Project Coordinator
Julia Phillips, Senior Instructional Content Developer

Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
Danette Barlow, Administrative Coordinator
Darby Barbazon, Research Project Coordinator
John Pearce, Postdoctoral Fellow

Environmental Health
Sweta Jinnagara Puttaswamy, Lead Research Specialist
Amit Raysoni, Postdoctoral Fellow
Kelly Baker, Assistant Research Professor
Sarah Porter, Supervisory Research Project Coordinator

Mondie Tharp, Associate Director of Research Projects
Travis Sanchez, Associate Research Professor
Paulette Peek, Senior Quality Control Editor
Mackenzie Crawford, Senior Research Project Coordinator

Global Health
Sharon Dorsey, Program Administrative Assistant
Neil Mehta, Assistant Professor (TT)
Dorothy Peprah, Senior Research Specialist
Garret Christensen, Associate Director of Research Projects
Anil Vora, Associate Director of Programs
Ayesha McAdams-Mahmoud, Research Project Coordinator
Alyssa Lowe, Senior Research Project Coordinator

Health Policy and Management
Jason Hockenberry, Assistant Professor (TT)
Shawkut Ali, Research Interviewer
Allyson Anderson, Senior Research Interviewer

Business Services
Claire French, Senior Sponsored Research Administrator

Faculty Promotions

Global Health
Dabney DeLima, Assistant Research Professor

Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
Delia Lang, Associate Research Professor

Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
Qi Long, Associate Professor
Limin Peng, Associate Professor

Staff Promotions

Behavioral Sciences and Health Education

Deanne Dunbar
Colleen Murray

Environmental Health
Robin Thompson

Koo-Whang Chung

Global Health
Christopher Foster
Yvette Higgins-Sparks
Brooke Hixson
Anila Naz
Maria Sullivan

Health Policy and Management
Robin Hill

Business Services
Mary Bullard
Jason Patterson

Career Services
Mary Chesney
Roger Presswood

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Upcoming Events
*View all Rollins events on our new Online Calendar

Spring Semester
Begins January 18, 2012

MLK Jr. Community Service Awards
January 19, 2012

4 p.m. | Rollins Auditorium

Vist Emory!
March 22, 2012

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To view The Dean’s Letter online, visit our web page. To submit news items for future issues, please contact Tarvis Thompson, Rollins Communications Manager, at 727-3516 or tthomp8@emory.edu, or Pam Auchmutey in Health Sciences Publications at 712-9265 or pam.auchmutey@emory.edu.



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